Upgrading secondary treatment of wastewater to advanced standards is an important and cost-effective strategy for reducing nutrient loading in surface waters.
Appropriate irrigation of landscapes and golf courses with reclaimed water can offset fertilizer application. However, there is little awareness of this benefit, and reclaimed water is typically applied in conjunction with synthetic fertilizer
Properly sited and maintained conventional septic systems can reduce about 30% to 40% of nitrogen inputs. But all septic systems are not equal in their potential to impair surface water quality.
Understanding and quantifying the life-cycle costs associated with varying nitrate-removal techniques for varying site characteristics will inform local decision-making about existing and future septic system upgrades or conversions.
2.3 Improve knowledge about the location and status of septic systems and prioritize areas for upgrades or conversions
There are conflicting estimates of the number of septic systems in Sarasota County. Clarifying how many septic systems exist, where they are located, and their functional status is fundamental to managing their potential environmental impacts.
Biosolids are a valuable byproduct of wastewater treatment that can be landfilled, spread on ranches and fields, or used as a fertilizer. However, the high concentration of nutrients in biosolids may contribute to water quality problems.
Because most biosolids are generated by municipal wastewater treatment facilities, emerging markets for biosolids products may offer economic and environmental benefits to communities.
Understanding the relative contribution of fertilizer to nutrient loading can help prioritize management strategies. Loads may reasonably be estimated through an approach that calculates nutrient budget coefficients based on inputs, uptake, and outflows of nutrients for differing land uses.
5.1 Estimate nitrogen loading from atmospheric deposition using multiple monitoring stations within urban areas
Atmospheric deposition, both direct and indirect, is a major source of nitrogen to water and land in Sarasota County. Additional monitoring stations along an urban-to-rural transect,
Robust long-term monitoring and modeling programs that take into account surface and subsurface runoff, stream flows, and organic and inorganic nitrogen concentrations are essential for accurately estimating and managing nutrients in watersheds.
Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) can capture and treat nutrient-laden runoff before discharge to water bodies, some with greater efficiency than others.
8.1 Restore and enhance wetland and shoreline habitats to increase nutrient uptake and storage by plants
Protecting, restoring and enhancing wetlands and shorelines is among the most cost-effective nutrient reduction and climate mitigation tools available to communities.
8.2 Enhance fish and wildlife populations to increase nutrient uptake and biomass storage by animals
Restoration of fish and wildlife through stocking programs and habitat creation or protection can directly and indirectly contribute to nutrient removal while providing other ecosystem benefits.
Long-term monitoring programs allow policymakers, managers, and the public to identify and address pollution in a timely manner, and track progress toward goals.
10.2 Review existing monitoring programs, fill monitoring gaps, identify pollution sources, and update pollutant load models
Local scientists should collaborate with regional and local water and resource managers to review existing monitoring programs and address the remaining information and data gaps highlighted in this Playbook.